As the snowplow struggled up the street, Billy mumbled aggressively under his breath after being forced to slow by a Suburban driver more worried about getting to work than being scooped up by the 5-ton snow shovel. Billy worked the stick and backed the plow down the street to get another run at the incline. He slowed at the intersection and paused. On the corner lot, playing in the quickly accumulating snow, were three heavily bundled youngsters looking eye-to-eye with the snowman they were crafting. Billy grinned long and hard, jammed the stick into gear and pressed on around the corner. This is Billy at work, keeping the roads clear and the parks of Savage, Minnesota, in mint condition. But his true passions—his family and hunting—are never far from his mind. And little does his boss know that one of Billy's favorite places to scout for new hunting ground is from the seat of a plow truck.
NAH: If you were king for a day, and you could change one hunting regulation, what would it be?
BILLY: Dang, man, I don't know. To be honest, there's a lot of 'em I don't like. But I wish the Minnesota DNR would open up the greenhead season longer. Right now waterfowl season closes December 1 except for geese. Here's the thing: Big waterfowl hunters who can't afford to make it out of state—they don't ever get the treat of seeing big flocks of greenies coming from every which way. They only get to see it on TV, and that's not right.
NAH: That makes sense. So, in that vein, what's your biggest pet peeve of outdoor television?
BILLY: I like the hunts the average guy can go on—not like the crazy "look at me because I shot another 200-inch whitetail again this year." Shoot a regular buck or doe. I watched an episode of North American Hunter-TV a while back and they showed that the buck wasn't recovered the same day. That crap happens to all of us, and it's real. And when they use a gun to shoot a deer, it'd be cool for them to say what gun, caliber and bullet they're shooting. It's important info for the guy who gets only a week to hunt every year.
NAH:OK then—if you could hunt only one week next year, where would you go and who would you hunt with?
BILLY:I would go out to my buddy's land in South Dakota. South Dakota is the secret nobody knows about. The deer season is so limited and it's so hard to get a license out there. The monster bucks that my buddy shoots are unreal. His small deer are my huge deer. And that's one thing I want to do before I die—shoot one big buck. But that dream is changing, too, because I've got another kid on the way.
NAH:How is that dream changing?
BILLY:Well, having two girls makes it harder to get afield. That, and I want to get Eva, my 4-year-old, out hunting with me. And you know how it is—hunting opportunities good for kids are hard to come by. And it's tough to bring my kids along but then have to leave early because she has to go potty. I'm getting to the point that I want to get something opening day … not because I want to be done, but because I want to be on to the next opportunity—the next hunting season—or to get back to the farm or back to the family.
NAH:Is it safe to assume your girls are a big part of your hunting future?
BILLY:Already are. My wife, Carrie, and I bought each of our little girls a pink Ruger 10/22 when they were born. And we will do the same thing when our third daughter is born, too. Eva is proud of hers every time I open up the safe. She always tells me, "That's my gun in there." And, when she's a little older and I think she can handle it, we'll go out and plink off some rounds. My dad bought me a 20 gauge when I was born and Iwant to continue that. It's important.Just like having a hunting dog in the family ... I think that's important, too.
NAH:Because it's hard to hunt waterfowlwithout a good dog?
BILLY:Well, I bought Gauge, my chocolate Lab, for one purpose—and that's hunting. It's all important … him being good in the house and him being able to be trusted with the girls … but it's all a bonus. If he's not going to provide for me while hunting, then I'm not going to provide for him. He has to earn it.
NAH:So, how do you earn it with Carrie? How do you balance your hunting life and home life?
BILLY:My goal is to keep the two together—to have Carrie and my girls out hunting with me. I also have a separate savings account for hunting. If I sell something hunting related, then the money goes right back. And all the side jobs I do, that money goes into the hunting account, too. It pays for my annual Canada waterfowl trip and ammo and what not. That keeps me satisfied, but I've got to give it to Carrie ... she's pretty darn good to me. Before we got married, it was always, "See you later ... I'm going hunting." But now we've got the girls and more responsibilities. So as much as I love hunting whitetails, that's why I love hunting greenheads— because it's more of a for-sure thing. Hunting time is limited. Ya know I wanna change one of the statements I made earlier. If I could hunt for only one week, I would help Carrie shoot a buck with her bow. That's it for sure. She's been after it for a long time. Heck, I'd honestly like to see her kill the biggest buck on the property and then rub it in my face. That would make my season.